Hiram Ulysses S. Grant—At 17, when entering West Point, his name was mistakenly written as Ulysses S. Grant and he apparently was happy to lose the HUG initials. The S was for his mother’s maiden name, Simpson.
Stephen Grover Cleveland—named Stephen in honor of the first pastor of his father’s church, but always called Grover
Thomas Woodrow Wilson—Woodrow was his mother’s maiden name—he dropped Thomas after graduating from college
John Calvin Coolidge Jr—he named his children John Coolidge and Calvin Coolidge, Jr—covering all his bases
David Dwight Eisenhower—his father was also David, so his mother reversed the two names after his birth to avoid the confusion of having two Davids; the president’s grandson inherited the David name.
Some other older examples:
Eldred Gregory Peck—his father was Gregory Pearl—the actor definitely made the best pick of the lot
Samuel Dashiell Hammett—Dashiell was his mother’s maiden name, he was known as Sam (as in his character Sam Spade) before he began writing under the Dashiell name (and then nicknamed Dash).
Pearl Zane Grey—born in Zanesville, Ohio, named for his great-grandfather, to a mother whose maiden name was Zane; he dropped the feminine Pearl early on
George Orson Welles—he was named after his great-uncle George Head and great-grandfather Orson H. Head; the future Citizen Kane-maker opted for the more distinctive name
Boys who dropped their Daddies’ names:
Charles Robert Redford, Jr
Christopher Chace Crawford
Daniel Jason Sudeikis
George Alexander Trebek
James Paul McCartney–the name was passed on to Paul‘s only son, making it a three-generation tradition
Michael Trent Reznor
Monroe Jackson Rathbone V—MJR II was the head of Standard Oil, MJR V is also related to Stonewall Jackson and Basil Rathbone
Troyal Garth Brooks
William Bradley Pitt (The two William Pitts shown in the illustration)
William Clark Gable—he was named after his father, but was called Clark—the maiden name of his maternal grandmother– even in childhood, as well as Clarkie, Billy and Gabe.
Allen Kelsey Grammer
Aubrey Drake Graham—the future rapper used the name Aubrey Graham when he acted in Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Christopher Ashton Kutcher
Clarke Issac Hanson—using middles as firsts is something of a Hanson family tradition (see Jordan Taylor). And Isaac carries on the convention with his sons Clarke Everett, called Everett, and James Monroe, called Monroe. Clarke is the name of the father of the clan.
David Jude Heyworth Law—the Jude was for both Jude the Obscure and ‘Hey, Jude’
James Hugh Calum Laurie
John William Ferrell
Jordan Taylor Hanson—his oldest child is named Jordan but, of course, called by his middle, Ezra.
Matthew Ryan Phillippe
Michael Sylvester Gardenzio Stallone
Milton French Stewart—he is the fourth generation of his family to wear the name French
Philip Anthony Hopkins
Thomas Jacob (Jack) Black—named his son Thomas David Black
Thomas Sean Connery—he was called Sean as a lad when he had a close Irish friend and the pair became known as Seamus and Sean, though he was usually called Tommy. Thomas was his grandfather’s name.
Walter Bruce Willis
Audrey Faith Hill
Dorothy Faye Dunaway
Elizabeth Stamatina Fey—you have to wonder if she was ever called Liz
Elizabeth Tea Pantaleoni
Geetali Norah Jones Shankar—she changed her name to Norah Jones officially at the age of sixteen
Hannah Dakota Fanning
Katherine Mathilda (Tilda) Swinton
Kathryn Bridget Moynahan
Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon—Reese is her mother’s maiden
Lila Diane Sawyer
Mary Elle Fanning—followed in her sister Dakota’s name-changing footsteps
Mary Kathleen Turner
Mary Rose Byrne—these three are among many who have dropped the name Mary
Mayte Michelle Rodriguez—Mayte is a variation of Maite, originally a contraction of Maria and Teresa, and currently Number 24 in Chile
Nicole Evangeline Lilly
Olive Marie Osmond—her mother is Olive May
Robyn Rihanna Fenry